The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

August 30, 2013

Little Balkans Days under way in Pittsburg

PITTSBURG, Kan. — On Friday afternoon, 100-year-old Cecilia Waggoner became queen for a day.

A resident of Oak View Estates, Waggoner is perhaps best known in the region for founding the Pittsburg State University nursing program in 1971 after having worked as a nurse in Pittsburg from 1932 to 1970.

Now, she can claim another honor: She was crowned queen of the assisted living category during the Little Balkans Days Festival’s 19th annual King and Queen Pageant. The pageant is a cooperative effort by the region’s nursing homes and assisted living centers that honors and celebrates the lives of their senior citizens, emcee Joe Hart said.

At her 100th birthday celebration earlier this year, Bobby Winters, assistant dean in the PSU College of Arts and Sciences, noted that Waggoner had to battle other established nursing degree programs in the state to create one at PSU.

It was a fact she reiterated during the talent portion of the pageant Friday afternoon.

“I had to fight,” she told the crowd.

The Kansas State Board of Nursing approved the PSU program in 1971 and the first class graduated in 1973.

“Not only did Mrs. Waggoner lead all aspects of BSN curricular development, she hired the faculty and mentored the new faculty in choosing their specialties and obtaining the appropriate education,” Winters said.

Waggoner retired from PSU in 1979, but remained active and close to the department. She was a nursing education consultant and instructor for continuing education classes from 1980 through 1987 and as a nursing education consultant for the Kansas State Board of Nursing. In the early 1990s, she served on the master’s degree task force, which developed the MSN program at PSU.

She also remained active in her senior years, and during the talent portion showed off intricately beaded flowers she sculpted of wire and arranged in vases.

Likewise, 97-year-old Maurice Tuttle, a resident of Medicalodge of Coffeyville, Kan., said he wasn’t too old to demonstrate a talent he learned as a child.

“I’ve been playing guitar since I was 10,” he said, adding that one of his proudest moments was receiving his membership card to the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association.

For his entry in the talent portion of the pageant, he placed his steel guitar on his lap and sang and strummed “Blue Hawaii.”

For his efforts, Tuttle was crowned king in the long-term care category.

Others preparing to show off their talents during the annual Labor Day weekend festival include the 100 members of the Little Balkans Quilt Guild, who for 26 years have put on the Little Balkans Days Quilt Show.

In the lower level of Memorial Auditorium, guild members worked most of the day Friday assembling quilt racks and hanging entries for the show, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. They’ve also worked for the past year to create the quilts and prepare for the show, which draws entries and visitors from states away.

Entries include nontraditional designs, like Joplin resident Marian Wood’s “Wonderful World,” a complicated and colorful collage-like quilt featuring global landmarks that earned her a “Judge’s Choice” ribbon, and the traditional, like Cherokee, Kan., quilter Noralee Chadd’s cross-stitched flower bouquet, that earned her the “Overall Winner” ribbon.

Longtime guild member Elma Hurt said the show is a way to showcase quilting as an art form.

“The artistic talent and diversity is amazing when you look around the room at 192 quilts,” she said. “You can give the same pattern to six different women, and each quilt will look entirely different. It all depends on their choice of fabric, the arrangement of their blocks, whether they do hand or machine quilting.

“And it’s been that way as long as quilting has been done.”

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